Hanging out in San Francisco was a great experience. We loved it on our last visit, so we were looking forward to checking it out again.
This time round we had 2 bases from which to enjoy it: Dolly’s apartment in the trendy Piedmont St., Oakland that we booked through Airbnb and later a great location in Benicia, where my cousin Diana and second cousin April live.
The timing of our arrival in San Francisco could not have been better. The 2013 America’s Cup between the USA and New Zealand was in full swing, so lots of extra tourists were in town. The weather was pleasant too.
Highlights of our visit included:
- Meals, a party and sightseeing with Diana and April
- more meals and sightseeing with second cousin Paul, his wife Maria and their son Tristan
- The amazing Mission District with its old Spanish influence, bright murals & an eclectic mix of people
- an Oakland A’s baseball game with Paul, Maria and Tristan at the Coliseum. The A’s won at the bottom of the 9th!
- a trip to Alcatraz Island to check out the famous prison that housed Al Capone, the Birdman and other notorious criminals
- a looong walk along the San Francisco Bay shore, across the Golden Gate Bridge and on to Sausolito. Total distance about a half marathon!
- Chinatown during the Full Moon Festival: lots of colour and activity
Cable car riding and Lombard St, ‘the crookedest street in the world’
- Wandering around the piers and the mall
- Just ‘hanging out’ in San Francisco
The ultimate highlight of our time in San Francisco was being able to watch the 2013 America’s Cup racing on San Francisco Bay. Banners, flags and advertising posters were all over town. This is possibly the only time in history that you could easily watch the races from the shore! To our great surprise, we discovered that we were able to watch the action free of charge. Many spectators had shelled out exorbitant amounts to see the racing, but as usual in these situations, cheaper options are always available.
We avoided paying for the advertised tickets on line and decided to just try our luck and see if we could get close enough for a glimpse. Imagine our surprise when we bussed down to the bay and discovered there was a free grandstand right next to the shore, alongside some expensive grandstands with identical views. There was even a giant screen nearby, featuring live action and commentary.
We chatted with sailing fans from all over the world and watched some unbelievable yachting action. Being rookies, a few basics of the racing were explained to us. With wind speeds close to the allowed maximum, the giant catamarans were almost flying. They were literally out of the water, balancing on their foils.
New Zealand was leading the best of 17 race series 6-0, following a 2-race penalty imposed on the US team for ‘cheating’ in the preliminary races. This meant that New Zealand was only 3 races away from victory. The USA sailed well to win the first race of the day by 800 yards. The 2nd race was very exciting! There were a number of lead changes throughout the race. At times it looked like the boats would collide as they approached from different tacks. But New Zealand snatched the lead by a whisker and held on to win the race by 17 seconds. In the newspaper the next day, they were suggesting it may have been the most exciting race in America’s Cup history!
PS. Unbelievably, the USA team, skippered by Aussie Jimmy Spithill, lost the next race but still came back from an 8-1 deficit to win the series 9-8 and hold on to the America’s Cup! Incredible.
PPS. Australian Robert Oatley, of Wild Oats and Hamilton Island fame, has already challenged for the next cup!